CHARLOTTESVILLE — The University of Virginia announced Friday the suspension of one of its oldest fraternity chapters pending an investigation.
Under the suspension, the Lambda chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order must cease all fraternal activities, said Jacob Pittman, president of UVa's Inter-Fraternity Council.
That means canceling or postponing indefinitely a charity lacrosse tournament slated for April 21 benefiting the One Love Foundation, an organization founded in 2010 by the mother and sister of slain UVa student Yeardley Love to combat dating violence.
Pittman said the men were notified of the decision Thursday and that the length of the suspension would depend on the results of the investigation, which he would not discuss.
The reasons behind the school's move and subsequent notice of a 30-day suspension handed down by the group's national organization remained a mystery Friday even to Rick Jones, the chapter's alumni sponsor.
Jones said letters he received from university Dean of Students Allen Groves and Kappa Alpha refer to allegations lodged against the house.
"All it says it that they have received allegations, and as a result of someone making those allegations, they are suspended," he said. "We are not told what those actual claims are, just that they're a violation of the Fraternal Organization Agreement."
A spokesman for the national organization headquartered in Lexington said that the order was conducting its own investigation of the chapter.
Jones, whose company manages the chapter's $1.1-million property on Rugby Road, said Lambda men are like most UVa students: Smart, hard-working and honorable. He also said that UVa is doing the right thing.
"I hope they find that it was nothing serious," he said. "No parent wants to feel that their child is in an environment where they are at risk."
When reached at home and via email, chapter members referred all questions to the group's parent organization.
The move follows a growing trend of decreased tolerance for hazing and excessive drinking activities associated with Greek letter organizations by their schools and parent institutions.
The language Jones described in the letters to Lambda from Groves and the national Kappa Alpha organization echoed an admonition from the dean last week that accompanied an abrupt, school-ordered end to the spring pledging period, a time when aspiring members learn the traditions of their fraternity and engage in group bonding activities.
In a letter to fraternity alumni sent April 4, Groves cited "colorable reports of hazing and misconduct," including excessive alcohol consumption and "other behavior that threatens the health, safety and well-being of ... students."
He said an investigation was underway and several others were pending.
The announcement came on the heels of a sit-down two months earlier between Groves, university President Teresa A. Sullivan and the 31 member organizations of the Inter-Fraternity Council following a rash of alcohol-related student hospital visits during rush week.
Groves was unavailable for comment Friday as he traveled to St. Louis for an annual meeting of the North American Inter-Fraternity Conference.
This is not the first time this fraternity or others have faced disciplinary action on Grounds. In May 2012, UVa terminated its Fraternal Organization Agreement with the Lambda Zeta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi, according to the school website.
Kappa Alpha has come under fire twice in racially charged incidents: First at UVa in 2002, when guests of a Halloween party co-hosted with the school's Zeta Psi chapter showed up in blackface. The university suspended and later cleared both groups in that instance.
In 2009, University of Alabama alumnae petitioned the school's president to stop the local Kappa Alpha chapter from parading in Confederate uniforms and carrying battle flags. The fraternity banned the tradition in 2010, according to media reports.
The Kappa Alpha Order, founded in 1865 on the principles of excellence and gentlemanly conduct, claims Robert E. Lee as its spiritual founder and boasts 123 chapters in 26 states. Its coat of arms features lions, an upstretched arm clutching an axe and the motto "God and the Ladies."